Academics warn that the rapid growth in the registration of pro-China political parties seen over in the past six years is a sign that the Chinese government is trying to infiltrate Taiwan in an effort to influence the outcome of upcoming elections.
Taiwan Thinktank councilor Tung Li-wen (董立文) said that since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) assumed office in 2008, a total of 116 new political parties have been registered, and more than 80 percent of these have a manifesto based on “promoting cross-strait exchanges and cooperation; advocating unification with China.”
“The Chinese government is using these small parties to infiltrate Taiwanese politics to cultivate and propagate more pro-China organizations,” Tung said.
“During last month’s visit by China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍), these groups were mobilized for a show of force. Plans are now underway for more ‘drill training’ at the elections later this year. Their main aim is to ‘mobilize their troops to impact on the presidential election in 2016,” Tung said.
As of May 2008, there were 138 registered political parties, according to Ministry of the Interior figures, while as of last week there were 254, an increase of 85 percent.
Tung said that many of the newly registered small parties’ names contained the words Zhonghua (Chinese, 中華) or Zhongguo (China, 中國) and are pro-unification.
He said other small parties registered used “Taiwan” in their names, or are based on social philanthropy or religious foundations, but their explicit aims are to advocate for unification with China.
“Another development is that Chinese women married to Taiwanese men have formed and registered several political parties. We estimate that by the 2016 presidential election, the Chinese spouses could have a voting bloc of between 120,000 to 240,000 ballots,” Tung said.
“China provides support to Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing parties which are also known as ‘loyalists.’ Through elections, Communist China’s political control of Hong Kong is assured. The experience there shows that it can be done. So China is copying that template and applying it for Taiwan,” he said.
This is because China has realized that by controlling only 3 to 5 percent of Taiwan’s electorate, it can sway the presidential election, and thus decide Taiwan’s future, Tung said.
“Therefore China is cultivating underlings to organize political parties that pander to China’s political agenda in Taiwan,” he said.
“My personal observations indicate that these small parties are not isolated, but are well-organized into a hierarchy with close links and division of work missions. They have formed fraternal alliances and clubs, and hold large social gatherings each year,” Tung said.
He cited as an example that when Zhang came to Taiwan, he was warmly received by various groups and associations at all his stops, resulting from mobilization by these pro-China political parties and organizations.
Tzeng Chien-yuan (曾建元), a professor of administrative management at Chung Hua University in Hsinchu, said Taiwan has yet to pass the draft political party act, while the Civil Associations Act (人民團體法) is under very loose supervision.
“Under the Political Donations Act (政治獻金法), all political parties are forbidden to receive financial donations from China, however, there are many loopholes and it is easy to bypass the regulation,” he said.